Dr. William Conte, Artistic Director
William (Bill) Conte is a New York City native, born in Brooklyn, raised on Staten Island, and educated in Manhattan. Since the 1980s he has produced, directed, written, and/or acted in nearly one hundred productions. Bill pioneered the use of found spaces on Staten Island for unprecedented productions of T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Waste Land,” on an abandoned industrial site adjacent New York harbor, a production of Prometheus staged over five acres on the grounds and monuments of Snug Harbor Cultural Center, and other shows staged in bars, on the street, on rooftops, in parks, and on beaches. In the late 1990s Bill received funding from the New York State Council on the Arts to translate and stage Dante’s Inferno; the five year long project resulted in a critically acclaimed off-off-Broadway production of Inferno at Synchronicity Space in Soho, Manhattan, in 1998, and a 2001 performance of Paradiso on a Staten Island beach featuring a live orchestra, as well as earth works and sculptures made from found objects. For this work he was honored by the Italian-American cultural organization Fieri, and was the recipient of numerous grants and awards from the New York State Council on the Arts. As artistic director of Theatre SanGreal, Bill entered into partnership with the New York City Department of Parks in the early 2000s and staged Macbeth, The Tempest, and City Dionysia on the beaches of Staten Island. During his time in New York he worked as an adjunct lecturer for seven different colleges simultaneously, teaching dozens of classes in writing, literature, history, and theatre.
Bill received a Ph.D. in Theatre from the City University of New York Graduate Center in 2010. He was then appointed as the Instructor of Theatre History and Literature for the Department of Theatre and Dance, Casper College, in central Wyoming. Before retiring from academia in December 2020, he staged or acted in 19 productions at the college. He also found time to publish peer reviewed scholarship and to translate from Latin an obscure Renaissance treatise on ballet. Since founding the Theatre of the Poor in 2016 he has staged and acted in a dozen more shows, including a “motorcycle” staging in Newcastle, Wyoming, of Macbeth, which coincided with the Sturgis Rally in 2016, and a production of Prometheus, in which the theft of fire from the sun coincided exactly with the total solar eclipse over Casper in August 2017.
His commitment to great teaching was acknowledged by an Excellence Award from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) in 2014; in 2019 he received Honorable Mention from the Wyoming State Council on the Arts for his work in Casper theatre. Bill is married to elementary school teacher Jacquelyn Navarro, and one of the great joys of his life is working on plays with their daughter Julia. In addition to a verse project involving the translation of medieval religious hymns from Latin to English poetry, he is working on a new book for aspiring actors, The End of Theatre, which will be completed by mid-2022.
Asheton is an actor and dancer. After his stints with Performing Arts Workshop and Casper College Theatre and Dance, Ash joined the Theatre of the Poor in August 2021 as an apprentice. He was last seen as Laertes in Hamlet, and Mary Wigman in TotP’s A Very DADA Xmas, where he created an original piece in the style of the modern dance pioneer. He played Mary the Maid in the recent TotP marathon production of The Bald Soprano, and before that was one of several actors to play the role of Everyman in the company’s back alley production last August of The Summoning of Everyman. Ash is proud to now be a member of Theatre of the Poor, and part of a new approach theatre education and the formation of a theatrical community. He ithanks everyone who has supported him on his journey through life and the arts.
Drew is a lifelong Casper resident who has been active in theatre since junior high. Drew has been around the block when it comes to Casper’s theatre scene, having performed at Dean Morgan, NCHS, Casper Theatre Company, Casper College, Stage III. He joined the Theatre of the Poor as an apprentice in September 2021. He was last seen as Horatio in Hamlet and the poet and playwright Tristan Tzara in A Very DADA Xmas; before that he played Mr. Smith in The Bald Soprano marathon. Drew appreciates the artistic direction of Theatre of the Poor and looks forward to what it will accomplish together going forward.